Brave New World Characters
The main characters in Brave New World are Bernard Marx, Lenina Crowne, the Director, Linda, John, Helmholtz Watson, and Mustapha Mond.
- Bernard Marx is the alienated World State citizen who brings John to London.
- Lenina Crowne falls in love with John.
- The Director is Bernard’s boss and John’s father.
- Linda is the Director’s ex-girlfriend and John’s mother. The director abandoned her during a vacation to the reservation.
- John is the Director’s illegitimate son. He was raised on the savage reservation and learned to read using The Complete Works of Shakespeare.
- Helmholtz Watson is Bernard’s best friend.
- Mustapha Mond is Resident World Controller for Western Europe.
Last Updated on April 1, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1616
All characters in Brave New World who live in the World State are born into a carefully controlled caste system. Ranking from highest to lowest are Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Most of the main characters struggle in different ways to fully accept the social structure of the World State. They also make attempts at freedom—some hesitant and some desperate—with varying degrees of success.
An Alpha Plus, Bernard works for the Director as an expert in hypnopædia, though he has become disillusioned by his work. He is shorter in stature than most men of his rank. His height and his unorthodox behaviors foster a rumor that alcohol was accidentally added to his blood-surrogate.
Bernard harbors a secret hatred for Henry Foster because of the way he treats Lenina, whom Bernard loves. Yet, due to his inferiority complex, Bernard also envies Henry for the ease with which he moves through and is accepted in society.
Bernard’s friendship with John, also known as “the Savage,” suddenly catapults Bernard to the top of the social hierarchy. He decides to take advantage of his status and indulges in all the things he was critical of before, including soma. When his popularity abruptly sinks, however, he becomes distraught.
When John rebels by trying to deny Delta workers of their beloved soma, Bernard wants to help him and save him from the Delta’s mobbish anger. However, Bernard cannot bring himself to help John out of fear of persecution. Mustapha confronts Bernard, who becomes inconsolable at the idea of being sent to an island. He then turns on John and Helmholtz, though he later apologizes to them.
Helmholtz is a lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering, as well as a writer. He is Bernard’s closest friend and shares with him a feeling of being different from the rest of society. For Helmholtz, this difference manifests intellectually instead of physically, as he possess the characteristic physical features of an Alpha Plus; unlike Bernard, Helmholtz is tall and handsome. Helmholtz senses that there is something more meaningful beneath the superficiality offered by society, but he cannot identify what that something is. Undaunted, he seeks it out and has long conversations about it with Bernard.
Helmholtz longs to write something meaningful, so he begins writing about taboo subjects like loneliness. He is reported for his unconventionality, but he takes this lightly and feels as though he’s finally reaching his potential. When he is exiled by Mustapha, he chooses to go to the Falkland Islands, where he feels the moody climate will bolster his writing.
John the Savage
John is the son of the Director and Linda. He has light-colored hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. Born and raised among the Native Americans at Malpais, John is always treated as an outsider and is fascinated by his mother’s descriptions of the “Other Place,” where she grew up.
John learns to read from an old collection of Shakespeare’s works and adopts a slightly old-fashioned way of speaking because of it. He is the first character to reference the book’s title, a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, as a descriptor for modern society in the World State.
He is excited to accompany Bernard and Lenina when they return to the World State, but he soon becomes disheartened by its rigid social structure and its normalized promiscuity. Everyone he meets finds him odd and refers to him as “the Savage.” Despite being in love with Lenina, he disparages her sexual forwardness and becomes violent with her when she tries to seduce him.
He is distraught after Linda’s death and enraged that no one else seems to care. After attempting to rebel against the social order, he is forced into isolation by Mustapha Mond. He becomes determined to live out a monkish life and renounce worldly pleasures. His plan goes awry, however, after World State citizens discover his hermitage. Their unrelenting fascination is unbearable to him, and it drives him to take his own life.
Lenina is an unsterilized woman, called a “freemartin,” who is employed as a vaccination worker at the Hatchery and Conditioning Center. She is described as having lupus, which makes her eyes purple and teeth coral. But she is also uncommonly pretty, with wavy, auburn hair. She has had many sexual partners, most recently (and most exclusively) Henry Foster, but expresses to her friend Fanny that she’s growing tired of promiscuity. She finds herself interested in Bernard for his unusual looks and behavior.
After meeting John, she is instantly attracted to him and falls in love with him. She becomes annoyed with Bernard and Henry and instead obsesses over how to seduce John. She doesn’t understand why he won’t give in to her advances, and her feelings for him take a turn after he attacks her and calls her a whore.
She attempts to reconcile with him after his exile when a crowd is cajoling him, but he turns on her violently. Whether or not she survives his attack is left unclear.
As the Resident World Controller for Western Europe, Mustapha Mond is the highest-ranking character in the novel. He and ten other Controllers are responsible for making sure society remains in accordance with “His Fordship’s,” or Henry Ford’s, vision. Mustapha is described as being of medium height and having dark hair, a hooked nose, full lips, and dark, piercing eyes.
Mustapha is fascinated by rebels but believes such people cannot be allowed to live among society, for they will create disorder and upset the manufactured happiness of the people. When he sends Bernard and Helmholtz off to live on an island, he believes he is doing them a favor by allowing them to live out their days with people he feels are more interesting than the citizens of the World State. Mustapha is particularly interested in John, which is why he lets him live as a hermit; he views John as just another experiment.
Years prior to the events in the novel, Mustapha was also a rebel. He considers his accepting the position of Controller as a way of making amends for his behavior, a sacrifice he needed to make in order to do well by society. He believes that this sacrifice gives him the right to be secretly deviant, and he keeps a hidden collection of old, banned books in his study.
Linda is a Beta and the birth mother of John. Formerly a worker in the Fertilization Room, she becomes trapped at the reservation in Malpais after getting separated from the Director, her lover at the time.
Despite taking all the necessary contraceptive precautions, Linda became pregnant with John. She raises John on the reservation, where she is treated as an outcast and reviled by all the local women for sleeping with their husbands. Though she loves John, she is also ashamed of his socially unacceptable birth and is violent with him when he attempts to interrupt her trysts with local men, including Popé.
Because she has not had access to the advanced medical care and anti-aging treatments from home, she has visibly aged and has wrinkles, floppy skin, and missing teeth, which disgust the characters from the World State, particularly Lenina. Linda is desperate to return to the World State, and upon doing so, she attempts to reunite with the Director. After he rejects her, she takes soma constantly, driving herself to an early death.
The Director (Thomas)
Thomas, also called Tomakin and the D.H.C. by some characters, is the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning for Central London and Bernard’s boss. He is the first prominent character readers meet in the novel. He plans to exile Bernard to Iceland for his unorthodoxy, but he doesn’t get the chance. After being publicly humiliated when Linda reveals that he fathered her child, he resigns from his job.
Fanny is Lenina’s friend; she shares the same last name as her, although they are unrelated. Fanny is a worker in the Bottling Room and a “freemartin.” She is nineteen and has brown hair. She chastises Lenina for going out with Henry Foster too exclusively. She represents a quintessential woman according to World State standards.
Henry is Lenina’s most frequent lover. At the beginning of the novel, he helps the Director show students the Hatchery and Conditioning Center, where he works. He is a conventional Alpha male: strong, tall, and attractive, with fair hair and ruddy skin. Yet, he fails to protect Lenina at the end of the novel when she is attacked by John. Instead, he runs away.
Benito is one of Lenina’s former lovers. She remembers him as being particularly hairy. He is surprised by Lenina’s interest in Bernard and is regarded as perpetually good-natured by Bernard.
The Arch-Community-Songster of Canterbury is the most esteemed guest at a party Bernard attempts to throw so he can showcase his friendship with John. When John refuses to attend, however, the Arch-Songster is disappointed and blames Bernard for making false promises, embarrassing Bernard in front of his guests. The Arch-Songster later sleeps with Lenina, who doesn’t enjoy their time together because she’s in love with John.
Popé, a native inhabitant of the New Mexico reservation Malpais, is one of Linda’s frequent lovers. He gives Linda the Shakespeare collection John reads from. When John attacks him with a knife one night after finding him in bed with Linda, Popé doesn’t fight back, but simply disarms John and then laughs at him.